What is Dental Insurance?
Dental Insurance is not like traditional health insurance. Instead, it is a limited coverage benefit intended to minimize your out-of-pocket costs on a small handful of procedures in a year. It is more like paying for an extended warranty on your mouth every year, with limits on what it will cover and how much it will pay. You may pick what you want to cover on some plans at an additional expense, and others just offer basic minimum coverage for small "breakdowns" on your teeth. Dental Insurance has been in existence since the 1960's, when a dental crown was around $100 and a patient would have around $1200 in maximum benefit each year. At that time, most patients would never reach the maximum in one year. What has changed since then? Dental costs have risen to 10x what they were in the 60's, but the maximum dental insurance benefit hasn't changed much, leaving patients to quickly use up all of their benefit during the year, resulting in failure to complete all of the needed treatment. Dental Insurance Companies profit most when you pay your premiums and never visit the dentist, or use very little of your benefit during the year. This is counterproductive to a healthy smile. To maintain their profits, Dental Insurance Companies continue to create more rules, loop holes, and other obstacles to avoid paying for your dental care. Many dental insured patients are disappointed when they realize that they still have to pay for much of their dental care out-of-pocket every year.
What is a Discount Savings Plan (DSP)?
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Discount Savings Plans (DSP for short) are gaining popularity and some Dental Insurance Companies are marketing this low cost alternative to traditional Dental Insurance to patients and employers. A DSP is simply a fixed fee schedule that dictates fees that your dentists can charge for a procedure, which is usually discounted arbitrarily. On the surface, that is great for you, the patient, since you get discounted rates. But, it is even better for the company that sells the plans, since they charge you or your employer for the plan, yet they don't have to pay anything towards your dental care. DSP's do not pay for ANY dental care - even routine cleanings - which puts the dentist in a potential conflict searching for cheaper materials and laboratory costs rather than striving for excellence in treatment and materials. In addition, they don't reward your loyalty to their plans with increasing personalized care and benefits over time.
SmilePlan is similar to a Loyalty Club Program. Dentists value patients that are loyal to their practice and keep on top of preventative care such as cleanings and exams. This is the key to preventing costly dental treatment and is a win-win between the patient and doctor. The annual fee to join SmilePlan is not an empty Discount Savings Plan membership fee or Dental Insurance premium. Instead, it can be thought of as a "down payment" committing to two hygiene visits during a 12 month membership period. The money you spend to join SmilePlan, goes directly toward your preventative care. In exchange for simply "pre-paying" a portion of these two yearly hygiene visits, SmilePlan rewards the member with generous discounts and savings on all of their dental care, based on TRUE fee savings. There are no high cost insurance premiums and no empty membership fees. There are no limits, no waiting periods and no games. Simple, right?
What are TRUE fee savings?
Many dental offices offer their own "in-house" Discount Plans promising huge savings off of their dental fees when you enroll in their programs. However, typically these fees are based upon a inflated number and often result in a "discounted" fee that is about the same amount as what you would have paid at most dental offices without buying an additional plan. These offices may reference a number of sources to cite their discounts, such as choosing to compare against the highest area standard fee from FairHealth.org, or even inflating their own standard fees and then offering discounts back down to where they started. The intent is to make the patient feel that they are getting a discount, when in reality they are paying what they would have paid anywhere else. There is no regulation over what fee a dentist or a dental company can charge for a procedure, and therefore, there is no standardized fee that all dentists use to compare. On top of that, there is a wide range in the quality of care delivered from dentist to dentist.
With SmilePlan, our discounts are based off of the Doctor's ACTUAL standard fees, and result in TRUE fee savings of 20-30%, or greater.